Monique stopped to fight a masked person in black and white patterned clothing and a blue-jeweled staff. She only chose him because he gave off circus vibes and she thought that they could bond over that. Winning an ally was surely better than defeating an enemy.
“I’m Monique Manyweather! Multi-talented clown of Ishaeul.” Monique introduced herself.
“I’m Chesster Manutistra… Wizard of… here.”
“Oh, Chesster? The chess-jester? Yes, how about we play chess instead of beating each other up?”
“I don’t know how to play that.”
“How about rock paper scissors then?”
“Oh. Yeah, okay.” Even though it was a mask, the face on it changed slightly to reflect emotion. Most of the time it was a sensible smile though. Chesster stepped closer.
“You know the rules?”
“Of course I do.”
“Best of three?”
“Ready? Three, two, one!”
Monique held out scissors against Chesster’s rock.
“Damn. Okay, three, two, one.”
Paper against scissors. Monique lost.
“Alright, I won!” Chesster’s smile bent a little further.
“Best out of five?”
“Why should I give you another chance?”
“Let’s make it first to ten wins. And reset the count.”
“Yes!” Monique was confident.
“But for each loss, the other gets to hit you and you can’t defend.”
“Oh… Yeah, sure.”
“Three, two, one.”
Paper against scissors.
“Three, two, one.”
Rock against paper.
“Three, two, one.”
Rock against paper.
“Three, two, one.”
Rock against paper.
“Three, two, one.”
Scissors against rock.
“Three, two, one.”
Rock against paper.
Monique lost the first six games.
“Wait, wait, this isn’t working. You count down this time.” she hoped that would change her luck.
“Alright. Three, two, one.”
Paper against scissors. Monique lost again.
“Two more games.”
“You don’t know that.” Or did he?
He counted down again. “Three, two, one.”
Well against paper. Monique lost.
“Are you kidding me? Okay, I’ll count down again.” Monique had a plan. A stupid and desperate one.
“Three, two, one!”
Squirrel against squirrel. Tie.
“Three- two, one.”
Squirrel against squirrel.
Monique repeated this stalemate for a while. Chesster grew visibly frustrated, his mask changing to a frown. There was no hand sign that could beat squirrel, so the best he could do was tie. Though it was suspicious he even knew about this option.
“What is this? This game is stupid.”
After eight ties, Monique used paper. Chesster used scissors. That was odd. Squirrel would have beaten paper, yet he chose scissors.
“You cheated.” Monique concluded. “There’s no way you’d guess I’d put out paper this time.”
“I just got lucky.”
“It’s quite easy to read your emotion, but this immense luck left you entirely cold. Like you knew you’d win.”
“Can you prove it?”
“Yes. One last game. Doesn’t matter if I win or lose in this one. You count down.”
“Three, two, one.”
Monique shook her hand along with it, but hid it behind her back without forming a sign. Chesster held out a hand in no particular shape either.
“Huh?” he gasped, confused at the result.
Monique formed a scissors behind her back and Chesster’s hand turned into a fist.
“You did it! You… somehow morphed your hand into whatever wins against mine!”
“Yeah, that’s the point.” Chesster retreated his hand.
“You’re a magic user. But you’re no mind reader, or you would’ve seen through that trick too… It’s an illusion! You trick my brain into seeing whichever hand I’d lose against!”
“You cheated, which disqualifies you. So I won by default and am moving on.”
“I won’t let you.”
Monique figured. She took some precautions for this case. For long distance portals, one would need another mage on the other end, but Monique could open portals near here on her own. What was also possible, was placing one side of a portal somewhere, like outside Jekit-Lafier, and then walk to where you want the other end to be. Monique opened a portal behind Chesster and kicked him through it. That should stall him at least. She tried to see if she could see the results of Kekremu’s fight through it. It appeared to have concluded, but she couldn’t see who won. She closed the portal. With both halves closed, she won’t be able to do that trick again. She hoped they could all win these fights as bloodless as this one.
Duuri came down the stairs, stopping to see how Monique’s fight was going.
“Was there no one here?”
“There was, but I beat him in a game of rock paper scissors and kicked him out through a portal.” Monique was a little proud she managed to finish her fight earlier than Duuri, if just a few seconds.
“Damn, I’m sure he’ll think twice about… just walking back down here unharmed.”
“How did you take out your opponent then? Seemed to take you quite a while.”
Duuri just grunted.
Corpix was still trying to free herself from Milala. She was certainly tenacious. Milala wondered more about why she was still a demigod. Did Corpix just lie? Did Apolomyem forget? Is he double-crossing Jaliehv or just trying to play both sides until one was winning?
Milala noticed something blocking the light. A strange black and white wizard stood over them.
“Oh, hey Chesster.” Corpix said. “Mind helping me out here. You know what to do, right?”
Without a comment on the ridiculous situation, Chesster took a long look at them and then pulled Milala’s tail free bit by bit. Milala could feel the strain on her limbs lighten until Chesster eventually managed to separate them.
Milala stretched her limbs, having gotten tired of being stuck too.
“Ready for round two?” Corpix asked.
Milala gave her a thoughtful look.
“What does that mean?” Corpix tilted her head.
“I was just thinking, let’s pick a new arena.”
The main power of an earth demigod was to manipulate the earth, naturally. Milala willed the earth to open below her. Before fighting any more, she needed to solve the Apolomyem issue. If he was here and engaged in a fight, he’d use his earth powers, which should vibrate through the ground a certain way. For now, she could only feel Corpix following her.
A cloud hung in the sixth room. Cynthia stopped underneath it.
“Stop right there!” A voice came out.
“What are you doing here, Apolo?” Cynthia growled.
“Jaliehv said… she would leave me alone if I helped.”
“Come out then already.”
A middle-aged man in white robes fell out of the cloud. He looked scared.
“I should’ve known.” Cynthia shook her head.
“Jaliehv is right. You are too scary.”
“Is that her problem with me?”
“Well, I’m glad you showed yourself.”
“Cynthia, let me handle him.” Algasath said.
“I hope you know what you’re doing.” Cynthia said and led the group onwards.
“Good luck, dad.” Lasha wished. Algasath waved her farewell for the time being.
Apolomyem looked elated that he only had to face Algasath the notorious pacifist.
“So you joined Jaliehv just because she is intimidating?”
“Yes.” Apolomyem said.
“You do realize you are immortal?”
“Not anymore. Once you are done with Jaliehv, you’ll replace me as well. Then what will become of me?”
“You’ll live life as a mortal.”
“I don’t want to die! I don’t want to be hurt. My only choice now is to eradicate all of you.”
Apolomyem conjured sharp rocks and flung them at Algasath. He evaded the attack.
“That was too slow. What do I do?” Apolomyem scratched his head with both hands. “I- I have to…” He looked to the ceiling. “Oh you are troublesome, Algasath. That damned darkness.”
“I don’t want to fight you. Just flee and let me pass.”
“You don’t understand. All of you have to die. You all want to hurt me. I can bury you all. That’d at least kill all the mortals here. I just need to-”
The walls began to shake. Was he seriously going to collapse this structure with all of Jaliehv’s allies still inside? There was little Algasath could do to stop him. Gods were immortal, even to other gods.
Milala broke through the wall. Apparently she used her ability to burrow down here after defeating the other catgirl. Actually, that catgirl pounced her from out of the wall right after. Milala kicked her off and she landed next to Apolomyem. They both stopped their fight to check on the one they interrupted.
“What are you doing here? Why did you bring her here?” Apolomyem complained.
“Why did you let her get here? Didn’t Jaliehv tell you to take away her demigodhood?”
“What? Oh, right. Sorry.”
Corpix smiled and jumped Milala again. Her claws managed to cut into her skin now, even if not very deep. She was still a Stüpp. Algasath quickly made Milala one of his demigods. She won’t regain the defense of an earth demi but she could at least regenerate in the dark corners of the room and use the shadows. Milala kicked Corpix away from her once more and Algasath pulled a cloud of darkness into the light to cover Corpix and consume her warmth. She fell over freezing and shivering.
“I made you my demigod.” Algasath explained. “You can heal with darkness and manipulate it like I just did.”
Algasath considered explaining how darkness worked exactly. Most people thought darkness and shadows were the same. Just the absence of light, not a substance of its own. But darkness was a physical thing, like light. It is what Sjetta are made out of, or rather a variant of it. Darkness gathered in shadows over time. Shadows thrown by people or trees in the sun would move to much to gather much darkness, but here, underground, the dark corners were brimming with it. Still, it was a finite amount, even if the shadows remained. Algasath wanted to let Corpix and Apolomyem believe they had an infinite amount at their disposal, if they thought that. If they knew, they’d try to make them run out, or illuminate the corners to burn away the darkness. Light would destroy it instantly and it had to gather there anew. So he hoped Milala would figure it out herself or just not be wasteful with it.
This dark he picked would be useless against Apolomyem though. He had no blood, or organs to freeze, and even if he could encase him in ice, he could still move the earth around him unhindered.
Corpix recovered from her frozen state much faster than a mortal would. She tried to attack Milala again but she thought quick and encased her in darkness and froze her once more.
“I figured it out!” Milala smiled but let go of her divine protection of the dark and let it dissipate in the light. She began to punch and kick at Corpix, hoping the frost broke away her defense, but it didn’t. As both a Stüpp and earth demigod, Corpix was downright indestructible to Milala. All she could do was keep her frozen. That should be good enough.
Apolomyem fumbled with something in his pocket. Algasath had been afraid to see that soul knife again but it looked like Jaliehv had only been able to produce one. Whatever Apolomyem held onto was smaller. Algasath felt the earth rumble a second before the floor and ceiling stomped together where he had stood. He dodged to the side just in time. He wasn’t sure what Apolo’s plan was. Even if he crushed Algasath, he wasn’t actually a Sjetta, not limited to the dark to regenerate. Even if still trapped in rock, as a god, his regeneration would bring out the force to break it away to reform his body. Gods were designed to always have agency. There was no way to kill them or to trap them.
Yet, Apolo tried again and again. Algasath tried to piece it together. Jaliehv had designed a knife that could destroy souls. The reason gods could not die no matter how much their bodies were destroyed is that their souls would always remain intact. Did Jaliehv try to make knives capable of killing gods? And did she succeed? Or did she end up creating something else as a compromise? If Apolo was so desperate to flatten Algasath in the earth, maybe he just wanted to reduce his body to a small enough form. Small enough to fit into whatever he nervously shuffled around in his hand? A material gods could not break out of. But even then, he would still be able to use his powers outside of it. Right? Whatever it did, Algasath could assume he did not want to fall victim to it. Fortunately though, if he played this right, he was just given a way to defeat Apolo.
Algasath shaped his hand into an axe and extended it towards Apolo. He was startled to see the pacifist attack him, but that philosophy only applied to beings Algasath could actually injure. The axe cut him apart just below the shoulders. His arms fell to the ground, his hand letting go of a blue sphere. It shimmered in the same sick blue of the soul knife. Algasath went to grab it, but it was swallowed by the earth and returned to Apolo. He stood up, the rest of his former body still lying at his feet. He scratched his neck nervously, troubled that his plan had at least been partially revealed. Algasath used the moment to check on the two catgirls. Where they had been was now a hole in the ground. Corpix must have figured to try and bring her up to the sunny surface. She could probably still use her earth powers while frozen. That was a little troubling. He better wrap this up quick and come help her.
Milala had foolishly assumed that Corpix was harmless when devoid of warmth. Then the earth opened up beneath her. Corpix grabbed her by the neck as soon as she was able and pushed her against the sharp and hard rocks as she burrowed them through the earth. Her skin was cut to ribbons but her Stüpp muscles and bones weathered the assault. Otherwise, her limbs would’ve probably been torn off by now. Milala figured she’d have an advantage in a dark tunnel though, but she couldn’t grab the darkness around her. She wasn’t sure why. Was the darkness too fresh to use, as this tunnel was just created? She also thought Corpix was taking her to the surface, where there were no shadows, but they could’ve reached it by now. Corpix was prioritizing smashing her against the rocks, as if she knew Milala would just be as helpless here as under the sun. She must know more about this than she did. But Milala had also learned something. When kicking Corpix earlier, she noticed that her limbs weren’t actually frozen stiff. Her Stüpp body resisted the cold just fine. The only reason she was immobile is because Milala froze her brain. The darkness contained in Milala’s throat and stomach was just enough to cover Corpix’ head. She didn’t need to freeze anything else. The earth stopped around them. It looked like Corpix’ brain had to thaw at least a little for her to have the consciousness to command the earth. She had pulled her into the earth about a minute after being frozen, but the little cloud of darkness appeared to have some more charges in it before it was used up. In the pitch black, Milala could see it was something else than just mere lack of light. If she could crawl back to the room, there should be enough darkness to keep Corpix unconscious a little longer. Milala’s body was in intense pain. She had been halfway skinned by the rocks but couldn’t waste any of the dark to heal. Her muscles still worked fine after all. But Corpix could’ve just crushed and killed her under the earth right away. Maybe she did have a soft spot for Milala after all. In turn, Milala could probably use the remaining darkness all at once to kill not only her body but her soul, which would not regenerate, but she never considered that an option.
Milala shoved her back into the chamber. Apollo had redecorated it with more pillars but had failed to defeat Algasath. Algasath spotted her and was both elated to see her alive but also horrified by her ghastly appearance. She dragged Corpix into a corner and figured to use some darkness to heal. There was nothing she could do to Apolo, so she saw no reason to interfere in the stalemate. She figured she should leave the remaining darkness for Algasath to use and just carry Corpix upstairs and use the dark corners there.
She ran into Duuri and Monique, both were surprised to meet her down here.
“Did you kill her?” Duuri asked, looking at the motionless Corpix in her arms.
“No, I just froze her brain. I think she’s just misguided and I don’t want her dead. So I’m just keeping her frozen. I’m a dark demigod now. Apolomyem is working with Jaliehv. Algasath is fighting him under here.”
“Algasath is fighting? Now this I gotta see.” Duuri jumped down the stairs.
Monique smiled approvingly. “Take good care of her. I’m sure after all this is done, we can all be friends!” She then followed Duuri. She probably had to watch that one the most if she wanted that to come true.
Algasath and Apolo kept throwing rocks and sharpened limbs at each other but neither showed an opening anymore. Algasath couldn’t retrieve the sphere from Apolomyem and Apolo couldn’t get an opportunity to use it. Still, Algasath kept losing ground, as the room was buried under earth more and more. At least Apolomyem was careful enough to not bury the whole structure. Even just filling this entire room at once would cause an earthquake severe enough it could collapse the other rooms around it. Perhaps he was just afraid of interfering with Jaliehv.
In the end, Algasath ran out of space to dodge and Apolo managed to smash him flat. The pillars he was stuck between rotated and ground him into dust. The pillar then lifted and Apolo waited to see which particle grew in size, regenerating. It was a process Algasath couldn’t halt. He felt Apolo pick him up and place him inside the capsule. Touching this strange material sickened him. It was unnatural in a way nothing else in existence had been until that point. Soon his body filled it out completely, unable to break it away. He wasn’t sure if it kept him from controlling darkness outside because he had already used it all up trying to freeze Apolo and shatter him into small enough pieces. He did hear Apolo giggle to himself in glee and elation.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought I’d find.” That was Duuri’s voice.
“Aw, shit.” Apolo cursed.
Earth was one of the slowest elements to move, so Algasath imagined he had no hope to defeat Duuri. Moments later, the sphere opened and the mass compressed inside it spilled out to form Algasath’s body. Duuri held a second sphere, likely holding Apolo. She must’ve learned of this trick earlier.
“Alright, now I actually took down a god.” Duuri bragged.
“Thank you, Duuri.” Algasath said.
“You just stay out of trouble, old man. I’ll handle it from here.”
“My daughter is down there.” Algasath hovered onwards. Duuri didn’t bother keeping up, being much faster than him anyway.
Duuri looked at Monique. “Will you keep following me? Look, I’ve calmed down, I promise I won’t hurt anybody.”
“Maybe, but I can help you. Why don’t you want to keep me around? Because I was born with weak bones? So were you. You need to stop looking down on people.”
“There you go again. Clowns should be funny not annoying.”
“Why did you ask me to come then? You do care about me on some level.”
“Aegil are meant to fight. I had hoped this would open your eyes, but then you just play children’s games instead.”
“I’m a girl, not an aegil.”
“You’re just like I was told.” A new voice filled the room. Duuri and Monique looked around but couldn’t find the owner. “Did you know they call you Duuri the Stiff Breeze? That metaphor works in many ways. Some tell in awe of your strength but many are about how abrasive you are and stuck in your ways.”
A Shandari formed in front of them. A shapeshifter by the way they did so. She was clad in bright, colorful clothes in red, orange and blue, appealing to Monique’s sensibilities. Duuri recognized a birth defect on her face. Shapeshifter bodies were rather malleable and therefore prone to more severe deformities. These could be easily covered up with shapeshifting though, even if it was straining to deviate from one’s natural form for too long. This Shandari in particular had failed to form her face completely, with her eyes and nose missing, leaving only holes where they should’ve been. Shandari that never had eyes couldn’t understand them enough to shapeshift them, but she at least could’ve put fake ones there.
“Oh, I can taste the disgust from here. I was hoping to get to kick your ass specifically.”
“So you’re obsessed with me? Charming.”
“Not really, I have many endeavors, this is just the only one involving you. Did you know you’re the only Shandari demigod? Well, aside from that one water demi, but who’s heard of her? People look at you as a representation of our species. And you suck total shit and that annoys me. Everybody thinks Shandari are ass backwards violence-obsessed shitheads. And I just wanted to fuck you up for personal satisfaction.”
“May we know your name?” Monique asked.
“Oh, sure. I’m Remic Kemdis. I have no issue with you so feel free to sit this one out.”
“No. I do agree that Duuri could update her worldview, but I’m still here to fight Jaliehv.”
“I see, that’s reasonable.”
“Whatever, let’s get this over with.” Duuri rushed forward.
Remic had just enough time to speak three words before Duuri punched her in the stomach: “Slow down Duuri!”
Duuri was surprised to find Remic did not rip in half with the force of her punch. Usually, shapeshifters were a little easier to punch apart than others. Their bodies just were a little bit flimsier, usually made up for with the whole shapeshifting thing. Remic got embedded in the wall in one piece though. She alluded to being an Akaname, saying she could taste her disgust. Duuri had learned she couldn’t tear their tongues apart no matter how hard she tried. Could a shapeshifter replicate that on their whole body? That would make this fight way more annoying.
Duuri dashed forward to beat Remic some more and see if that did anything. She moved really slow though. At normal speed, according to most beings. It was unbearable. Duuri remembered Remic’s last words.
“You’re a fucking witch!”
“That I am, baldie.” Remic climbed out of the wall. “Looks like that spell worked completely in my favor. Luck’s on my side today.”
“Don’t only fools use chaos magic?”
“Exactly. Chaos magic demands no well of you. No adherence to natural laws. It can do anything, if it wants to. The only drawback is that it has a mind of its own and that you have to take time to speak your spell. But I’m willing to embrace that. Chaos just wants to have fun with it and so do I. Maybe it backfires on me, but there’s no reward without risk. Usually witches have to agonize over these endless sentences to give the chaos nothing to play with but I don’t believe in that. That’s not what it is about.”
“So, when does this wear off?” Duuri asked.
“It won’t. That’s the beauty of it. The only way to undo it is to cast another chaos spell on you.”
“Oh, I fucking hate you.” Duuri tried to punch her but they were equal in speed now. Duuri learned that dominating everyone in speed really had atrophied her skills. Her reaction time was slow and Remic easily dodged and tripped her. Duuri hit her head on a wall, her weak skull audibly cracking.
She needed a moment to regenerate but Remic happily let her stew in the embarrassment. Well, Remic could dodge easily, but not if Duuri controlled her movement. Duuri got up and summoned gusts of air to force Remic’s face against another punch. This one connected and the combined forces tore her head clean off. It landed on the other side of the room, the body collapsing.
“It’s a trick. You’re a Vampire, aren’t you? Vampires can detach their heads from their bodies. That’s what you did. This body isn’t actually dead meat.” Duuri kicked the headless body away from her before it could attack. It regrew a head while the head regrew a body. Then two Remics stood in the room. Still, one consciousness couldn’t coordinate two bodies. Not intimidating. Being both a Vampire and Akaname, Duuri imagined Remic would have picked up the Stüpp mutation from one of her colleagues as well. It probably didn’t matter to her that Stüpps were just a sad imitation of shapeshifters, rendering most of their abilities moot. Duuri just promised Monique she won’t hurt anyone, but she would have a hard time fighting a body that was as tough as a Stüpp and could regenerate as a Shapeshifter. So, it would be way easier to kill the soul and the body with it. If she amplified her air attacks, the inherent divine magic should be able to rip her soul from her body. She imagined Monique would be very disappointed in her. That shouldn’t matter.
Remic noticed how cumbersome it was to steer two bodies so she tried to solve the issue with a spell.
“You! Gain independent consciousness and fight with me.” She said, pointing at her doppelgänger. It started to move less clumsily and promptly attacked Remic.
“Shit, I meant fight alongside me!” If that was another spell, it didn’t do anything.
“It’s another trick.” Duuri concluded. “You didn’t actually cast a spell when you said that, you’re just making this you play the part.”
“Ah, jeez, you figured it out.”
“She’s lying. Wanna team up?” The other Remic said. “I’d have a hard time beating her on my own, but I have a plan. We still share the same body to some extent, so I can just pull all our mass over and let you cut it off really easy.”
ReRemic held out an arm, which swelled up with additional mass.
“What, no. Stop her from doing that!” Remic said and ReRemic’s arm reshaped back to a normal form.
“Oh, great job, idiot.” ReRemic said. “You just removed our ability to shapeshift.”
“Did I? Shit.”
“Well, that works too.” Duuri ran up to Remic.
“Everyone here is on my side!” Remic said and everyone was teleported to her side of the room.
Duuri adjusted to her new position and began punching Remic. ReRemic joined in as well, while Monique just kept observing.
“Get me outta here!” Remic managed to say and vanished.
“Where’d she go?” Monique asked.
“I’m not sure.” ReRemic said. “When she removed our shapeshifting ability, that should’ve removed my head and her body, as they weren’t part of our original form. Instead the curse let us keep them. I believe we have become fully severed from one another.”
“Can you undo the slow down curse?”
“Sorry, no. I’m only a copy of her body. Magic is done with the soul and only she has one. I’m a soulless body. Only animated by the curse forcing me to fight her.”
“But you’re also talking. You have a consciousness.” Monique said.
“I have memories of language and allying with you would help me fight Remic, my purpose. Once my purpose is fulfilled, this body will cease all animation. But there is nothing living in here to die.”
“Well, who cares, she can’t help me.”
“Right, I need to find Remic again. The fight isn’t over.”
“When will it be over?” Monique asked.
“When she dies or when she gives up. Until then I’ll hunt her down.” ReRemic marched up the stairs.
“So what do I do now? I can’t fight like this.”
“Really? It’s not like you lost all your powers.”
“Yeah, but it’s just no fun like this.”
Monique didn’t respond to it, so they stood in silence for a moment.
“How do you think this will end?” Duuri asked.
“So far it’s going good, right?”
This time, Duuri remained silent.
“You mean, if we can end this without killing anyone?”
“Yeah. I can’t see you being okay with that. Even if Jaliehv is a dangerous mass murderer.”
“But you’re not asking about Jaliehv, are you?”
“Nevermind. Cralvalas should be further down, I’m sure he could undo this curse. Let’s go.”
Duuri took Monique’s hand to drag her onwards.
Remic was teleported somewhere outside Jekit-Lafier. It was quiet and bright. She kicked at the sand.
“Damn it.” She really ended up looking like a total fool down there. After announcing so confidently she was going to put Duuri in her place. How embarrassing. What bad luck. Remic sat down in the sand and started to think of a spell to give her her shapeshifting back without any trouble. She hated having to construct these long sentences. No fun at all.
She reasoned that Jaliehv was going to die today. She certainly had it coming, but Remic was a little sad about it too. Remic was the one to approach Jaliehv. She thought her plan of becoming the one god was just so insane, she just had to see where it was going. Remic was a deliberate agent of chaos, who made a conscious choice to always side with the most foolish ideas and try to bring it further along than it ever would on its own. Jaliehv of course didn’t like to hear that Remic thought her plan was the height of stupidity, but she was desperate for allies.
Still, Jaliehv already shaped the world in a way, changing it forever. The Fleshless as she called them wouldn’t exist without her. Most of them were failures, but they existed now and never would have otherwise. Same with the tools she forged out of broken souls. All the results of horrible, twisted experiments, but maybe the world would be better off having these things in it now. Or they would plunge it into darker times. That would be fine with Remic too. In a horrible world, it would be the good people to have the foolish, doomed-to-fail plans to try and fix it. After all, Remic still liked to be around good people and she wants the good to triumph. It just wasn’t her place to fight for it. Not usually at least.
Eventually her doppelgänger made it back to the surface, marching towards her.
“Truce?” Remic offered.
This would keep ReRemic from attacking her without ending the fight and stripping her of animation. Remic just wanted to have some company, even if was just a curse-puppeteered clone of her. Having a healthy but soulless body like that might come in handy. Remic wondered how reliably the string of events that lead to its creation could be replicated. She thought of the pile of Attejs corpses and the broken undying souls of the failed Fleshless. Perhaps they could possess unoccupied bodies like that to let them interact with the world without having to possess already occupied bodies. So maybe she did finally do a good deed. Remic smiled, the shame of being beaten by Duuri forgotten.
Milala made it back to the surface. She hoped she could stall Corpix longer but it appeared she used up all the darkness in Jekit-Lafier. At least it appeared that all her allies had managed to take down their opponent, or at least took them down with them. If Chloe had been free, she could’ve asked Susi to take Corpix to the sky where there was no Earth for her to control. Maybe even manage to fold her body together again to keep her from struggling in other ways. That would’ve been the ideal solution. What a tough enemy. It had been such a long time prey had given Milala such a hard time. If only she wasn’t utterly outmatched against her currently, this would be a lot of fun.
Corpix jolted awake. Her eyes found Milala sitting next to her.
“How long was I out?”
“About half an hour.”
“Damn. You can’t believe the headache I’m having. Timeout?”
Corpix fell back on the sand.
“I don’t really want to fight you anymore.” Milala said.
“Oh, come on.”
“I have no chance against you right now. I have to get much stronger. I want to start training to eventually take you down right away.”
“Yeah, I get it. I’d have more fun if you were still an earth demi too. Taking you down now would just be way too easy.”
“So let’s stop fighting for now.”
“You can sit here. Once my head stops throbbing I’ll go back down there and pick another opponent. I still want my side to win.”
“I can’t stop you.”
Corpix sat up. “Wait, Lumie was stationed right outside. Where is she?” Corpix stood up and started searching the area in front of Jekit-Lafier. Milala decided to follow her around.
“There she is.” Corpix stood over gilded cracks in scorched earth. She elevated the rock and cracked it open, a yellow soup dripping out.
“Do Attejs melt?” Milala asked.
Lumie recovered her shape under the sunlight. This was bad. She was one of Jaliehv’s best soldiers.
“Welcome back. We could use your help down there.”
“Are you kidding? I’m not going down there.” Lumie said.
“You think you jokers were able to stop this assault? They’re killing Jaliehv as we speak. I’m outta here.” Lumie’s wings started to buzz and she flew off.
“What a fucking coward.” Corpix said incredulously. “Whatever, I’m not tucking my tail in.”
Corpix ran back inside Jekit-Lafier.
“What’s this?” Milala picked up a blue sphere. With a twist it popped open and Kekremu exploded out.
“Thank you, that really sucked.” Kekremu got on her feet.
“You were trapped in there?”
“Yeah. I don’t know what that’s made of. Anyway, I think you just let one of the bad guys run off.”
“It’s fine, I can’t fight her like this anyway.”
“I’m surprised to hear you of all people say that.”
“Well. Circumstances led me to be a dark demigod now. But I’ve used up all the darkness around here and now it’s completely useless.”
“Why did you change elements?”
“Apolomyem is helping Jaliehv.”
“That bastard. Well, I can only offer you to become a fire demigod if that’s better.”
“I can’t be two demis at once.”
“You can revoke your demigodhood yourself.”
“Yeah. Most don’t know this because, why would you? But just try to reject it. A strong enough and sustained desire should do it.”
“Fire certainly would still be able to damage Corpix. And I think I have more of an affinity to fire than darkness. Okay, I think I got it.”
“Then hereby you are my demigod. You can control fires and heat.”
“But I can’t create fire from nothing, right?”
“Not if you arent’ a fire mage, but by heating up your body temperature, you may be able to set things aflame that way. Like the darkness, you can then protect the fire from going out. Or just burn her with your skin directly. Now go get her, tiger!”
Milala’s clothes were rather torn up from the rocks Corpix rammed her into. She ripped off a shred of her shirt and heated up her hand to make a fire. Even as the fabric burnt up, she could keep the flame from going out and keep it floating by her. The hunt was back on.
Cralvalas figured he had to take on this enemy. Cynthia didn’t need to say who she had picked her fight with and Lasha and Celeste would have to find Valyra and Marvyad.
His opponent was an Asterian with the traits of a squid. Which specific type he couldn’t say. Her arms were hybrids of human arms and squid tentacles, just like some bird Asterians had arms that functioned as wings but also had somewhat working hands. She had ten arms, four pairs coming out of her back, hanging off her like a cape ripped into eight strips. Only her two main arms had fingers though. The whites of her eyes were black instead, identifying her as a Vampire. She wore black swimwear with a black cloth tied around her waist, with a white tentacle pattern on it, as well as black, unlaced combat boots. She sat cross-legged on the floor with her head in her palm, tilted to the side and looking at him displeased.
She stood up and brushed the dust off her.
“What’s your name?” Cralvalas asked.
“Nereza Lilot.” She said with a monotone voice.
“Why are you fighting for Jaliehv?”
“I owe her. She saved me.”
“Saved you how?”
Nereza put her right hand on her chest but didn’t answer.
“Well, whatever she did, she also killed hundreds of people for little reason. She needs to be stopped.”
“If that is true, there are still my other friends here that I would fight for.”
“We aren’t here to hurt anyone else. Your friends will be unharmed.”
“Why don’t you sound so sure?” Nereza said, her voice getting sharper.
Unfortunately, Cralvalas wasn’t sure if Duuri could control herself. Nereza decided the fight was inevitable. Her right arm lashed out at Cralvalas. While resting at a proportionate arm’s length, her tentacles could expand to the appropriate length of the animal she inherited from. Her range included anywhere in this room.
Her arm whipped him into a wall. When he sat up, he found her squatting before him, her main arms crossed on her knees with the remaining ones hovering over her, like the tails of scorpions.
“Are you not scared because you are immortal?”
Nereza smiled and couldn’t contain a chuckle. “You should be, anyway.”
Cralvalas became concerned that this woman may be a bit unhinged. Her back arms began whipping down onto him, hitting him with such force they cut into him, then through. He was turned into featureless mince meat. This didn’t really bother him because it’s the most a mortal could do to him. He had never been in a fight though and wasn’t sure how to appropriately fight back. He didn’t want to kill or maim her and was afraid he’d miscalculate the power of his output.
Nereza stopped her assault when Cralvalas was completely reduced to red pulp.
Cralvalas conjured an electric attack. Nereza barely reacted but she may just be playing tough. She picked out a growing chunk of meat from the mess. Cralvalas had no eyes anymore but could still see with his soul. Nereza held him up to her face.
“I used to eat stuff like this.”
“Don’t.” Cralvalas had to magically vibrate the air to produce a voice. “I’d continue to grow inside you and you’d die.”
“I was saying that in disgust. Are you sure though? I hear Akaname can dissolve anything in their stomachs.” Nereza stretched out a long tongue, spiraling it around the chunk in her hand without touching it. “You aren’t an Akaname though. Akaname tongues can’t have piercings put through them.”
She must’ve inherited that from her animal too. It was four feet long and pierced every four inches.
She let her tongue fall limp and gave him a disappointed look. Fortunately, he had no eyes for her to track, so she didn’t notice the two arrivals.
Monique had conjured a juggling club with her circus magic and Duuri slammed the thing onto Nereza’s head with a precise gust of wind adding force to it. Her chin slammed into the ground, making her bite down hard on her tongue and dropping Cralvalas.
She grunted with rage, her tentacles catching Duuri faster than she could react. She turned around to spit out some blood and glare at her. Her tongue still appeared attached at least.
“You made me bite my tongue!” she yelled but it wasn’t comprehensible. She repeated herself using the Vampire sound creation. The muscle of her tongue was unharmed, likely making it a muscle that benefitted from a Stüpp mutation. Her bite still ended up severing the nerves allowing her to move it, which didn’t enjoy a resistance upgrade. They should heal in time but mutant healing was much slower than a demigods. Nereza used a free hand to push the tongue back into her mouth but it wouldn’t fit itself in right and flopped back out.
“Whatever.” she said and returned to Cralvalas.
“Cralvalas, you need to undo a curse on me making me slow!” Duuri yelled.
“That’s going to take some time to prepare.” Cralvalas said.
“Time you don’t have.” Nereza said. She pulled a blue capsule from one of her suction cups and placed Cralvalas inside. After it closed, he could no longer see outside. Could summon no magic outside and as much as his body expanded against it, he couldn’t break the sphere either. Perhaps he should’ve been more afraid.
Nereza stuck the heart prison back to her tentacle for lack of pockets.
She turned around, glaring with an intensity at Duuri. Monique had never seen such resentment in a person. Without another word, her tentacles tightened and blood and organs vacated Duuri’s body in a blue explosion.
Duuri was rather fragile, that’s why she relied on her speed so much to dodge every hit. It was horrifying to see how easily she could crumble.
Nereza tried to wipe the blood off her tentacles against the floor. Monique wasn’t sure what to do. She still held a juggling club, as she usually conjured them in pairs, but it wouldn’t help her much. Her circus magic could conjure a wide array of items used in circus acts but few of them were useful in a fight. She had throwing knives but they couldn’t penetrate Nereza’s muscles. She figured she was a Stüpp by her tongue.
Nereza finished cleaning and all ten arms stretched towards Monique. Monique was at least good at acrobatics, so she could evade the tentacles pretty well. They stretched to a maximum of about 30 feet, which covered the entire room as long as she stood near the center. She coordinated them quite skillfully, Monique doubted she could trick her to carelessly coil them around a pillar and leave herself vulnerable for a moment. Monique had another idea though. She hoped she had enough Well for it.
She could open short distance portals all on her own. She could anchor them to certain points, usually the ground but it could be onto moving things too. And she could move them after opening them too. She conjured hundreds of little portals and slipped them over Nereza’s tentacles. Nereza tried to shake them off but couldn’t. Once the portals reached her shoulders, Monique closed them all at once. Their other ends she had placed in a corner in the room, that now was littered with a pile of tentacle slices. The thing about cutting things with portals was that they weren’t truly severed. It was like a Vampire detaching their head, food still makes it to the stomach. Nereza could still move her arms but separated into two inch slices, that didn’t amount to much. It used up almost all her Well but it should make Nereza much more manageable.
“What did you do?”
“Don’t worry, if you put them back, they’ll just fuse back on. Might take some time to puzzle out the exact order though.”
Monique was feeling confident. She didn’t think she’d do this well in a fight. She wondered if Duuri was able to watch.
Her eyes fell on Nereza again, who smiled amused. Monique felt her brief confidence wane.
“Don’t think that was all I had.” She conjured two flames that attached to her shoulders as replacement arms. A fire mage. Monique wasn’t fire proof, so this was bad.
Nereza shot a flaming fist at Monique. She tried to dodge like she did with her tentacles. The fire fist exploded as it impacted with the wall. Nereza didn’t care and every time Monique barely jumped out of range, the room shook with explosions. Nereza dodged a rock falling from the ceiling, at which point she stopped attacking. Both the stairs up and down had been blocked by rubble and her arm pieces almost got buried under a collapsed pillar. She knew simple flame throwers were too easy for Monique to dodge though. So she decided to make it harder. She spat out a black shape which then exploded into dark fog. Another ability inherited from her animal. A few more smoke balls and the fog even covered the glow of her flames. Monique could still pinpoint Nereza’s location with her other senses, but fire was harder to sense through sound, smell or taste. Fire shot at her through the smoke and she could dodge a couple but eventually was caught off-guard. The heat laid itself onto her and then was snuffed out. It had gone dead silent. Monique found she was kneeling near Duuri. Her body was still too mangled to move but she was aware. She had sucked all the air from the room, suffocating the flame. Fortunately, Shandari didn’t need to breathe as a blessing of the Torn God, but Nereza also still had plenty of oxygen saved in her lungs. Monique wasn’t sure what more Nereza could possibly throw at her though.
Monique figured she was about to give up and as such didn’t guard when she kicked her into the fog. Her legs weren’t as powerful as her tentacles though, so Monique recovered fast. Nereza prepared to stomp Duuri’s head apart. If she lost consciousness, she won’t be able to maintain the vacuum and a single strike would certainly do her in. Monique’s tongue grabbed her leg before it could descend and lifted her up. Nereza simply dropped her head off, attempting to gnaw through Duuri’s head with her powerful bite, not minding chewing up her own tongue some more. Monique ran up and kicked the head away. Without air, it could fly, so it just rolled somewhere into the fog. Monique let her body down so she could bite into her shoulder and siphon out all her Well. Duuri took that as her cue to let the air back in so she could continue to heal. Nereza’s head flapped her ear wings but couldn’t escape anywhere. The long tongue still hanging from her mouth made her easy to grab and being slapped with her wings didn’t hurt at all. Monique made Nereza’s body sit down cross-legged, placed her head in her lap and used her motionless tongue to tie her legs in place.
Monique sat down and waited for Duuri to regenerate, while using her tongue to retrieve Nereza’s arms and try to sort them. Nereza watched her do so without comment.
“I believe now is a good time to talk out our differences.” Monique said. “I’d like to be your friend.”
“I don’t think you do.” Nereza made the air speak for her.
“I think I do. But if you don’t believe so, let’s put that aside for now. Tell me a story. How did you end up here?”
“We’re stuck here until someone excavates us. And you don’t want to hear my story, but I might tell it if you refuse to.” Monique threatened.
“Fine. I was born a freak, everyone hated me, until Jaliehv found me and introduced me to all my friends likely beaten to shit by you lot by now.”
“That’s not a story, that’s a sentence. Tell it more like this: You see, I was actually not born on Shandi, but here on Nalisatna. In a little circus town called Ishaeul. I don’t know how my egg ended up there, but I hatched to two wonderful Asterian parents. My mom was a colorful parrot and my other mom a colorful chameleon. I was a bit of a prankster as a kid but they always took it with good humor. All three of us always had ways on our minds to make the others happy and I kept extending that to more and more people-”
“Okay, shut up!” Nereza said with her mouth but the sentiment was clear. She collected herself a little and continued with voice projection.
“You wanna know what kind of childhood I had? What my parents did? Fine! So, you know how there are Asterians that breathe air and Asterians that breathe water, that live in the ocean? Well, sometimes, a waterbreather is born to airbreathers. I almost died right after childbirth. I grew up stuck in a rudimentary breathing device. And as I kept getting bigger, my parents eventually got fed up with me. Just dumped me in the ocean. Said they’d come visit every weekend at the beach but I eventually stopped coming.
The biggest underwater city is Athelephia. That’s where I grew up during my teenage years. Except, I didn’t fit in there either. My body was still too adapted to life on land that I couldn’t swim as fast as others. Also, as you’d imagine, you can’t talk underwater. The way people communicated was through text or sign language. I couldn’t do either. I suffered some brain damage at birth, which is mostly fine, but I couldn’t coordinate my hands well. Most people just didn’t have the patience to sit through me trying. And then I left. Lived out in the wilderness, eating raw fish to survive, the ones slow enough. And then one day I came to the shores of Jaluxar, where I met Jaliehv, by chance. Somehow, I hadn’t completely given up on people yet, so we tried to converse. She was patient with me and actually let me finish sentences. I told her of my plight and she said to meet her again the next day.
That next day, I met Corpix. She shared her mutation with me and after I woke up from the transformation, I found myself on land, breathing air. I could form a voice. I learned how to speak, visited places I had barely seen as a child. It felt like I was finally who I am. Then, one day Jaliehv reached out for help. So I came here. I do admit, I don’t know much about her. If it’s true that she killed innocent people, then that sucks, but I can’t stop appreciating what she did for me. Not unless I see it for myself.”
Duuri had regained use of her body and stood up. Monique could see she was upset with how this fight went for her.
“Behave.” Monique said.
Duuri sat down next to them. Monique retrieved the arm segment with the heart prison attached and freed Cralvalas. He practically exploded out of it, having fully regenerated, despite lacking the space to do so.
“Thanks.” he said.
“Did you think of a spell for me in there?” Duuri asked.
“Well no, I’d need to know a little more about how exactly you were cursed to undo it safely.”
Duuri showed a tired smile and explained the specifics of her curse.
The wall exploded and Milala and the other catgirl tumbled through.
“Hey careful! My arms are still lying there!” Nereza scolded them.
The two halted their fight.
“Oh, sorry. Wait, what happened to your arms?”
“Mind fixing up the room before it buries us first, Corpix?”
“Oh, sure.” Corpix returned the room to a pristine shape using her earth powers. Then she sat down next to Nereza.
“So, I take it you lost?”
“Do I look like a winner?”
“Oh, I’ve already looked worse off today. I’d try to free you but I don’t think we stand a chance against these four.”
“I trust their good intentions.”
“Will your arms be fine?”
“Yeah, once we stick them back on.”
“Good. Hang in there, buddy.” Corpix patted Nereza’s back and stood up.
“So, since I can’t take all of you on, I guess this is it.”
Milala put an arm around her, giving her an impish smile. “Unless…” she directed her eyes at the others. “...You all promise to stay out of it and we keep our one on one going.”
“You know, I think I’ve thought of a counter to your flame.” Corpix said.
“Yeah? I think you’re bluffing.”
“No, really. But not here, I don’t want my friend to get caught up in it.”
“That can be arranged.” Milala wrestled Corpix to the ground and together they rolled down the stairs.
“You two see what’s going on downstairs too.” Cralvalas said. “I don’t believe Jaliehv has many forces left. This whole battle might already be over. I’ll stay here and reassemble Nereza. And put together that spell for Duuri.”
“Okay. Feel free to visit me in Ishaeul, Nereza!” Monique got up and Duuri followed her
On the eight floor, the remaining group finally found Jaliehv.
“You made it.” She simply said.
“Lasha, Celeste, go find Valyra. I’ll handle her.” Cynthia said.
“Hurry along then, children. Let the grown-ups talk… Good luck, Valyra.”
The two young ones vanished down the stairs.
“Are you regretting all this by now?” Cynthia asked.
“Regretting? No, not at all.” Still, Jaliehv’s body language told another story. She made no attempts to brace for battle and her head hung low.
“Then why so down?”
“I’m sure you’ve met Rule on your way down. Surprisingly skilled mage for someone that size. She specialized in seeing the future.”
“I guess you’d need to if your mask has no eye holes.”
“Very funny. Anyway, I had the chance to let her see my future. Do you want to hear what she said?”
Cynthia let her continue.
“She said that the world as I envision it will come to pass soon. But I will not live to see it.”
“I’m not sure how much I trust that.”
“It will be a while before her long term predictions will be tested, but I trust her. I accept that I may die here. Seeing it is you I face… I know you won’t hesitate.”
“So you’ll just surrender yourself?”
“I’m still debating that. I want to ask to remain in the Afterlife and see if Rule’s prediction comes true. But I also don’t know if it is you who kills me. And I want to take the risk and try to kill you before I die. To be honest, out of all the gods, I always hated you most. Perhaps I’d enjoy your death more than seeing my dream come true. But to kill you, I’d need this sword.” Jaliehv produced the blue blade. In her small hands it really appeared like a sword. “Having it here gives you the chance to use it on me as well. My soul would be destroyed and never reach the Afterlife.”
“So, how do you decide?”
Jaliehv engulfed the sword in magic and teleported it away. Valyra’s soul was too broken to use magic but Jaliehv could make use of Cralvalas powers. Valyra must’ve transferred the ones she had collected so far. “I decide that I don’t need it. I believe that it is true that my perfect world will come to be. And I know my perfect world doesn’t have you in it. It doesn’t have to be me who ends you.”
“Then die.” Cynthia sent blades of wind towards Jaliehv, but she had the speed of air and evaded them. Cynthia tried to conjure a storm that cannot be eluded but Jaliehv had the same air powers and could calm it before it started. Cynthia would have to rely on her speed, as that was the only thing Jaliehv could not negate. She needed to attack with the power of her element to break her soul though. Her body was fortified with the power of the earth, punching it won’t do much good.
Cynthia will have to land a surprise attack, one that Jaliehv couldn’t negate before it hit. An elemental attack should destabilize her soul, or at least damage her body. Cynthia still had the appearance of an Attejs though, including the antennas giving her a 360° vision. You couldn’t exactly sneak up on her. Cynthia wondered if Jaliehv was still able to change her shape. Was that an ability only granted to gods or was that something inherent to those ten beings created at the beginning of time, god or not? That was so long ago, it no longer felt real. Cynthia hadn’t thought about the beginning in eons.
At the beginning, there had been no intelligent life yet. Cynthia couldn’t recall what shape they had taken back then, if any. If they had all been born in the same place or found each other over time. The planet had been covered with vegetation and simple creatures. There was a history before the beginning, but it was only to explain the starting point and never really happened. A way to explain why things existed and preserve an internal sense of logic. Cynthia watched over the winds and those carried by it. First insects, then birds, some mammals, reptiles and many more took to the skies. Then came the Asterians, some of which fell under her care. The traveling world of Shandi bumped into Nalisatna a couple of times. And then the humans came. 317 years ago now. Really not a long time, but so much had changed since.
Cynthia’s thoughts faded back into the present. She and Jaliehv were still hopelessly throwing attacks at each other. Jaliehv’s were more varied, wind, flame, light, dark, tongue, claw. She had gathered a wide array of abilities but was skilled with none. Cynthia realized Jaliehv would make a mistake sooner than she would. So they continued this dance. Jaliehv was hoping to stall for one of her allies to come join her. But none came. Not in time, at least. Frustration and despair clouded Jaliehv’s concentration. Her anger made her throw away defense and just throw everything she had at Cynthia in hopes of overwhelming her. A burst of wind pierced through her stomach. The hole did not bleed but did not mend either. Her soul survived the attack but her insides didn’t. She faltered for a moment and Cynthia used the moment for a killing blow. Jaliehv’s soul detached from her body. It clung to it with whatever strength it still had, but in time it would have to let go. The finishing attack threw Jaliehv against a wall, where she now sat. She no longer had enough control over her body to move.
“One half of the prophecy came true.” Jaliehv said.
“Just let go. No healer could help you now.”
“I held out as long as any of us could. Leave me be. Let me see who will come down the stairs to assist us.”
Cynthia sat down on the floor. “Did you really think you would do a better job? You’re as flawed as any of us.”
“Yes, I did. Not the best job, but a better one.”
Jaliehv’s soul kept a tight grip on her body, but it was only a matter of time. Cynthia was fine with letting her see how much she failed. See how all of her minions had failed to stop anyone.
Two catgirls rolled down the stairs, wrestling with each other. The two realized what scene they tumbled into and halted their fight.
“Ah, Corpix. You kept the fight up longer than me.”
Corpix stood up and walked closer.
“Don’t try anything kid. She’s dying. Nothing you can do.” Cynthia warned.
“I’m sorry I failed.” Corpix said.
“What I did does not end with my death.” Jaliehv said.
“I’m grateful for everything you’ve done for me.”
“You’re a reckless fool, Corpix. Make sure someone is looking out for you.”
Monique and Duuri came down next. Monique was clearly disappointed to see Jaliehv dying. Strangely, Duuri appeared to be too. Algasath joined them a while later.
“There you are. I didn’t expect you to come.” Jaliehv said.
“I wish you would’ve come to your senses and help me fix the damage you’ve done to our people.”
“Well, I’d be the first.”
Nelub and an antennaless Attejs were the next to come down. The Attejs walked up to Corpix.
“She will die?”
“Yeah. We failed to protect her.” Corpix knelt down to be on eye level.
“Do you regret that?”
“I do. She probably wasn’t a good person. But she still saved my life. Whatever reasons she had to do that, these things are still real. And I’m grateful for them.”
“They’re still real for me too.”
Corpix smiled but then found that the Attejs had said that with bitterness.
“So, you’ve figured it out, Doowu.” Jaliehv said. “May that be a lesson to you not to be so gullible. And I did give you your tongue to make up for it.”
Corpix looked shocked, then forlorn. “I’m sorry.” she said.
A black and white magician rushed down the stairs. “So I am too late.” He got as close to Jaliehv as Cynthia let him.
“Yes, you are.” Jaliehv said.
“I don’t know what to say. I want to express my gratitude for making me. For introducing me to my friends.”
“I didn’t create you. None of the Fleshless. You used to be normal Attejs. All I did was fail to break you the right way, destroyed your memory. You have nothing to thank me for.”
Doowu stepped closer. “Are you sorry?”
“Of course not. You were all means to an end. What do I care how you feel?”
Cralvalas and the squid girl joined them.
“Oh great, Nereza is here too.” Jaliehv said.
“That’s not true. What you said.” Nereza joined up to Chesster and Doowu.
“You’re so easy to manipulate. All I saw at the beach that day was a girl who’d do anything for me in exchange for little effort. Well, turns out you were useless anyway.”
“What about the others?” Cynthia asked.
“Still tied up or they fled.” Algasath said.
It was quiet for a little while. Jaliehv did not breathe but kept adjusting her hands on her chest. She knew she won’t survive but refused to let go before she couldn’t stop it anymore.
“I’m glad you’re all alive though.” she said and her body finally slipped out of her grasp soon after. Her soul vanished into the Afterlife.
“She’s dead.” Cynthia declared.
Though their feelings had been greatly complicated, Jaliehv’s former allies got together in grief.
“Let’s go check on Lasha and Celeste.” Cynthia said. “Leave them alone.”